We all know what a heart attack looks like. After all, we’ve seen it in the movies! The sweaty, overweight, out-of-shape guy stops in his tracks, grabs his chest or his left arm, makes a grunting noise, can’t catch a breath, and down he goes. It’s a heart attack and everyone in the movie, and even in the audience, knows it immediately.
But here’s the truth—while that can be what a heart attack looks like, it isn’t always what a heart attack looks like. So if you’re under the impression that you have to be sweaty, overweight, and out of shape to have a heart attack, or if you think a heart attack always looks like it does in the movies, you’re mistaken. And it’s a mistake that could cost you your life.
Double-check your knowledge of heart health, with this quick quiz:
1.Which is NOT a symptom of a heart attack?
A. Nausea and/or vomiting
B. Jaw pain
C. Cold sweats
D. Trouble forming words
E. All of these are symptoms of a heart attack
F. None of these are symptoms of a heart attack
Answer: D, Trouble forming words. Did you think none of them were symptoms? You’re not alone. Most people just don’t realize that symptoms of a heart attack don’t have to include the chest at all. Women, especially, experience these subtle symptoms of a heart attack. Still, that doesn’t let men off the hook. These are warning signs for you guys, too, so don’t ignore them.
2. Which of these can increase your risk of a heart attack?
B. Sedentary lifestyle
D. Family history
E. All of the above
F. None of the above
Answer: E, all of the above. Although all of those things can increase your risk of a heart attack, the good news is that family history is the only one you have no control over!
3. The #1 risk factor for heart disease is:
B. Sedentary lifestyle
Answer: B, Sedentary lifestyle. The Center for Disease Control reports that 40% of people are at risk for heart disease simply because they are inactive.
Obesity and smoking are two other major risk factors, but being sedentary is the biggest one. Sitting more than 75% of the day increases your risk of a heart attack. Even if you go for a walk every morning, if you spend the rest of the day in the car, at your desk, and on the couch, your heart’s going to be negatively affected. At the very least, stand for 10 minutes every hour.
Move more throughout the day, quit smoking, and lose weight if you need to. All three steps will make your heart healthier.
4. You can have a heart attack and not even know it.
Answer: A, True. A silent heart attack, known as a silent myocardial infarction (SMI), account for 45% of heart attacks and strike men more than women. SMI symptoms can feel so mild, and be so brief, they often get confused for regular discomfort or another less serious problem, and thus men ignore them.
5. Which one is an unexpected Heart Attack Trigger?
A. Lack of Sleep
B. Migraine Headaches
C. Cold Weather
D. A Big, Heavy Meal
F. Spectator Sports
G. All of above
Answer: G, All of above. You definitely didn’t think ALL of them were triggers, did you?
Researchers found that people who usually slept fewer than 6 hours a night were twice as likely to have a heart attack as those who slept 6 to 8.
People who get Migraine Headaches are more likely to have a heart attack later in life than those who don’t.
Cold Weather is a shock to the system. Being outside in the winter months can cause your arteries to narrow, making it harder for blood to reach your heart. On top of that, your heart has to work harder to keep your body warm.
Your chances of having a heart attack go up about 70% if you have asthma. Even if you use an inhaler to keep it under control, your risk is still higher than normal.
Playing sports can possibly trigger a heart attack — and watching them can, too. In 2006, heart attacks in Germany spiked during the national team’s World Cup soccer games. And after the 1980 Super Bowl, fatal heart attacks were up in Los Angeles after the Rams lost.
One last question—what’s the number one killer of adults in America?
You guessed it: heart disease. So many people make lifestyle changes to prevent a second heart attack. Do yourself a favor and make the necessary changes now to prevent the first one, instead.